- Mike Klis (9news.com)
Gregory states regret for his actions in L.A.
Broncos' pass rusher had his one-game suspension overturned upon appeal.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Randy Gregory won his appeal of a one-game suspension in part because he expressed remorse for his actions.
The Broncos’ outside linebacker not only expressed regret to NFL appeals hearing officer Derrick Brooks on Tuesday evening, but also doubled down Wednesday to the local media.
“Definitely regret it,’’ said Gregory, who was also represented at the appeals hearing by his Denver-based agent, Peter Schaffer. “I’ve had a lot go on in this journey of my career and definitely not one of my bright spots. It was more of a normal back-and-forth as you have throughout the game, and I took the frustration a little bit too far. I let my emotion lead me. And didn’t really think of the ramifications that came with my actions. I’ve got to do better about that.’’
Gregory was penalized twice Christmas Day Sunday during the Broncos’ 51-14 embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Rams – the first time for unsportsmanlike conduct after the Rams scored a touchdown to go up 24-3 early in the second quarter; the second for a late hit on quarterback Baker Mayfield that set up first-and-goal prior to the Rams scoring to go up 41-6 in the fourth quarter – and then landed a punch on Rams right guard Oday Aboushi during what was otherwise the postgame handshake gathering. Aboushi punched back.
NFL vice president Jon Runyan initially issued a one-game suspension without pay to each player on Monday, but Brooks dropped the suspensions while fining Gregory $50,000 as the instigator and $12,000 to Aboushi. One source told 9NEWS that Gregory explained during the appeals hearing that one reason for his frustration was he knew the 37-point shellacking could cost head coach Nathaniel Hackett and potentially the staff their jobs. And Gregory really liked Hackett as a person and wanted to win for him.
There were other factors for his frustration – Aboushi also ruffled Gregory with smack talk about the edge rusher’s past, according to a source – but knowing Hackett could be in trouble was one.
Hackett was indeed fired the next morning as the Broncos are 4-11 with games at Kansas City and at home against the Chargers up next.
“I’m real biased towards coach Hackett,’’ Gregory said. “We came here at the same time. I think the world of the guy. A very smart guy. Very funny guy. He made the environment here, at least for me, in the locker room within the staff, very comfortable. And that’s one of the big things for me is comfortability. I’m a very anxious guy. So to be able to walk into a locker room, a meeting, the team, having the right setting was big for me and I think we had that with Hackett.
"At the end of the day I understand it’s a business. And when things aren’t work out, I think collectively we all had our part in it. But you guys know as well as I do in this league the fall guy is the guy controlling the ship and that happened to be Hackett. So I understand that part of it. Not happy. Not just with Hackett but with the season in totality. It’s not the way we want to go out.”
Gregory suffered a knee injury during the Broncos’ fourth game that required surgery, and it’s been a struggle to return. He missed nine games, played 23 snaps in his first game back against Arizona, but only managed 11 snaps Sunday against the Rams because of knee discomfort.
He didn’t practice Wednesday. While he wishes Hackett wasn’t fired, Gregory seems to have quickly bought into what interim head coach Jerry Rosburg is trying to accomplish in the final two games of the regular season.
“I think I was one of the first guys he spoke to when he got here,’’ Gregory said, referring to Rosburg joining the Broncos as a game-operations consultant prior to Week 3. “He commands a lot and I think that’s what we need at this point in the season is accountability. Attention to details. The finer things.
“When you look back at the schedule, I think we lost eight or nine games by one possession, and that comes down to the little things, the details. I think with Jerry that’s going to be big with him. I think it’ll be good for us. I think guys will respond the right way. I hope they will, and finish out these next two weeks on a good note.”